SEC bides time on Bangkok Airways

SEC bides time on Bangkok Airways

Prasert seeks extension of regulator's fine deadline

Billionaire Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to extend the deadline for his civil fine payment for manipulation of Bangkok Airways (BA) shares by seven days.

Prasert: Wants seven-day extension

"Dr Prasert has asked for a seven-day extension [to comply with the SEC's ruling]," SEC secretary-general Rapee Sucharitakul told the Bangkok Post in an exclusive interview. "Normally we are flexible in terms of extending [the payment deadline] by around seven days. The result will be known by next week, so we will have to wait and see what he decides."

Reasons for extending civil fine payment can be based on collecting the payment sum or making a final decision, Mr Rapee said.

But the SEC's verdict is final because there is evidence that Dr Prasert and the other two offenders conducted matched trading of BA shares, he said.

Asked whether the case will go to court, Mr Rapee said he didn't know, adding that it's unknown whether Dr Prasert will comply with the SEC's ruling.

On Jan 21, the SEC demanded the three offenders pay civil fines worth a combined 499.45 million baht within 14 days or face legal proceedings by public prosecutors.

The market regulator imposed a civil sanction on three major shareholders of SET-listed BA on the grounds of manipulation of the share price.

Besides Dr Prasert, Poramaporn Prasarttong-Osoth and Narumon Chainaknan were found to be liable for share manipulation.

A member of the BA communications team said the company has no statement on extending the civil fine payment.

The securities watchdog received information from the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), and further findings indicated that Dr Prasert, Ms Poramaporn and Mrs Narumon jointly traded BA shares continuously and conducted matched trading of BA shares among themselves, seen as a bid to cause misunderstanding about the price or volume of securities trading among the public.

This resulted in the price of BA shares behaving abnormally in the market in terms of price and volume, according to the SEC.

The trio are also barred from becoming executives or directors of listed companies and securities-issuing companies.

Dr Prasert and Ms Poramaporn have resigned from their positions at BDMS, while Dr Prasert and Mrs Narumon have resigned from their positions at BA.

Dr Prasert has been the top individual gainer for six straight years with regard to the value of his personal holdings in four companies listed on the SET.

He is a major shareholder of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Plc (BDMS), Bangkok Airways Plc, Nonthavej Hospital Plc (NTV) and Samui Airport Property Fund Leasehold (SPF).

BDMS holds a 95.76% stake in Samitivej Plc (SVH).

The value of Dr Prasert's equity holdings jumped 21.4% year-on-year to 77.1 billion baht in 2018, according to a report by Money and Banking magazine, which conducted a survey with Chulalongkorn University's accounting faculty.

Dr Prasert and his daughter resigned from company management on Jan 21 and the market has already absorbed the news, reflected through stable share prices of BA and BDMS, said an analyst at Yuanta Securities, speaking on condition of anonymity.

According to Asia Wealth Research, the firm has a neutral view on BA shares as the company reported its third-quarter net profit of 36 million baht, recovering from net losses of 157 million baht in the corresponding quarter of 2017.

The key driver for BA going forward is the high tourism season for Koh Samui, coupled with its successful increase in tourist destinations located in neighbouring countries, said Asia Wealth.

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